Thursday, July 21, 2011

Over the finish line!

Life has swamped us (i.e. no posts from me for a while!) for the past several weeks, but today we finally crossed the 'finish line' for our 2+ year transition from our 'old life' to our 'new life'. We took showers in the middle of the day, changed out of our old sweaty clothes (98 degrees today in SE Michigan) into our 'city clothes' and showed up at our realtor's office in order to officially close on the sale of the home where we have lived for the past ~ 24 years (we moved to Ann Arbor in August, 1987).

We are now, finally, full-time farmers, owning only one home, our farm, to both work and restore our mind, body, and soul.  :-)

We celebrated by going out to eat and then coming right home to the farm, changed back into dry old clothes to get dirty and sweaty again (we do laundry every night) in order to get right back to work on the farm.  We try to use nearly every single hour of daylight outside. I was weeding our beds of Chesnok Red garlic so that harvesting this variety will be easier tomorrow, and Dick was working with our friend who is helping us put in the irrigation system to our various fields. We finished the evening drinking champagne from jelly jars on our front porch, watching the sun set and the late evening birds come to our feeders.

Ahhhh, we are finally full-time last........ :-) I love those t-shirts that say 'Life is good', no matter what graphic is used. Maybe we need to make one up that says 'Life is good with garlic'. Just joking, we should actually say 'Life is great with garlic!' 

I hope I get the time to download photos, label them, and then upload them to my blog so you can see what we are doing on the farm, which is where I am happiest. I am happy whether I am planting, labeling, weeding, harvesting, labeling, drying, labeling, bundling, braiding, labeling, cleaning, labeling again. I am happiest at our farm whether I am alone (listening to the sounds of our farm), with my husband, with friends, or sharing our farm with strangers (i.e. new friends). I am happiest taking photographs, writing, and sharing my thoughts on my blogs. :-)

However, I am also preparing for two upcoming national meetings where I have been invited to share my thoughts on matters that do not bring me happiness. They are two very different meetings but share a connection with food, cancer (both prevention and survivorship), and our environment. I am preparing by reading the book Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber (and also watching the new DVD based on this book), reading the 2010 President's Cancer Panel Report "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What we can do now", and reading The Breast Cancer Fund's report State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment. 

Non of this reading is easy, let alone enjoyable for me. However, I value the experiences and thoughts of my readers deeply. If you have thoughts and concerns about how the contamination of our environment may be affecting cancer risk, I hope you'll share it in the comment section of my blog. It does not matter to me if you personally are a cancer survivor or not, because all of us have been touched by knowing too many people with cancer diagnoses.

I haven't told you where I have been invited to speak (both are national meetings). It really does not matter. However, as these meetings get closer, I'll tell you more about the 'charge' of these meetings so that you can have a direct opportunity to guide me in my comments so that I can best represent you.

Truth be told, I almost turned down both of these invitations, one (the first invitation) because I thought 'I'll only be speaking to the choir' and then (the second invitation) 'in this era of continuous large budget cuts at the federal level, I doubt that anything leading to substantive change is going to come from this meeting, particularly anything I might have to add to the discussion'.

It took me a while, but eventually I realized I was being presented with an opportunity to represent the millions of other cancer survivors plus the millions and millions of people who are worried why there is so much cancer every where they turn and are also worried, "Am I next?". Thus, I took a deep breath, sought courage and humbly accepted these prestigious invitations with the understanding that 1) I could only (and would) do my best and 2) if I needed more help, the universe would provide. 

Even with planning, I will not know what I'll say until I say it, and I will never know who might be affected by my experience, my words. I'll be tossing a pebble into the lake, watching the ripples spread out, knowing they spread throughout time and space in ways that I am not meant to fully see or understand.

Past time for sleep. I will be waking up with the birds early in the morning for another day of full-time farming. I am grateful beyond measure to be living full-time on my farm, to be physically capable of digging garlic in 90+ degree heat (for reasonable periods of time!), and I am also grateful beyond measure to have the opportunity to participate in discussions that may eventually lead to fewer people having their lives traumatized by a cancer diagnosis.

I thank my blog readers for your support in ways so numerous I cannot begin to articulate half of them, let alone all. Now I'm heading to bed. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Scapeless in Seattle"

Oops - I mean Ann Arbor! Yes, we SOLD OUT our 2011 crop of garlic scapes yesterday at Ann Arbor's Westside Farmers' Market. It was a 'scape frenzy' most of the afternoon as people came who receive our "Garlic Friends" email newsletter to both taste our last appearing 'auditioning' varieties and purchase enough scapes to make pesto, freeze, or make pickles. In addition, other people shopping at the market saw 'the buzz' at our booth and came over to see what was going on!

Not until I was driving the car to our booth to pack up after the market closed did I realize I had both my reading glasses and my sunglasses on top of my head. Please, please, please, my friends!! Just like when I was wearing two different running shoes earlier this year for who knows how long, please (yes, I mean it!) tell me when I need help pulling myself together. :-) Obviously my husband is no help! We both laughed over a beer later that evening when I told him what I discovered; he admitted to being so busy helping people the entire time we were at the market that he didn't think he'd had time to look at me once!

Over and over we heard our customers thank us for both growing our 42 varieties of organic garlic but as importantly, helping them learn how to enjoy using something as fun and delicious as garlic scapes. We can't wait to see them all again when we are back at the markets with our dried garlic heads. 

Here is our sign for our first garlic scape 'U-Pick' that we did last weekend and our 'sold out' sign at the end of yesterday's market.

Today we both heard the birds wake us up in that pre-dawn hour, but .......... we both rolled over and did not get up for a few extra hours. Ah, luxury! Then we are back to prioritizing the gazillion things that need to be done (unpacking, anyone?). However, let's just say that today neither of us is moving at lightning speed, and maybe I would have even noticed myself if I was wearing both of my glasses on top of my head. :-)

What did I hear today that was new, with all this 'extra time' on our hands? My husband whistling in the kitchen, cutting up garlic scapes as he was making a lunch-time frittatta for us. Now that's the good life. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD